Sophie Benge
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Sophie's adventures

FREE FALLING

Words simply don’t do justice to a Tulayoga treatment and if I could use just one it would be: unplugged. Much of what is contained within comes out: physical knots, trapped emotions and, in my case, pain in my buttocks and...... tears, which lasted, on and off, for nearly a week! I’m sure it’s not the same for everyone, I clearly had a lot of stuff to shift. And the plug was pulled.

After nearly three hours of hands and feet connection with Louka Leppard, I feel this has been more like a communion than a treatment: not only a deep dialogue in virtual silence, with this man, but a meditation with the sensations in my body, which also speak louder than words. In fact Tulayoga is a bit like a psychotherapy session where our thinking head gives way to our feeling body for letting go on every level.

“It’s not a head thing, but a way of being with people, of being in relaxation with them. I create a flow and help people release blockages that have been set up in their system - emotional, mental, energetic. I don’t put too many ideas of what they are and what should be happening,” says Louka. In return, the less we analyse and the more we trust, the more we reap.

This is a two-part treatment: massage then yoga - of sorts. Louka's gentle rocking and fluid massage moves are also less about manipulation and more about coaxing the body into submission. I sense his technique is loving and intuitive, taking cue from any resistance his hands and heart feel along the body’s pathways - to open energy flows and free repressed emotions. Moments of involuntary tears (when he worked on my back by my heart chakra) bore witness to that. He spent a long time on my bottom too - apparently the holding area of fear and grief. But it’s Louka’s style to nurture the body into letting go, not get hung up on what got trapped in the first place.

“Massage has taught me so much about what it is to love.” Enough said. His words support my belief - as well as my experience with him - that you can have all the training, qualification and theoretical technique you like (Louka hasn't spent years in a classroom) but without devotion there is no connection. And this is what most of us need - and crave.

Louka composed Tulayoga over four years “without a goal but enjoying the process of what this could do and where I could go with it. Eventually I developed the postures,” he says. He’s now been practicing professionally for 15 years.

photography  Helen Abraham

photography Helen Abraham

So, feeling cared for and unknotted - and ready to surrender to a man so practiced in his art - it’s time to take flight, with closed eyes and confidence, to swirl slowly through the air, to tip, tuck and turn like a kinetic sculpture on the four-point balance of Louka’s hands and feet. Spiritually, it's a ‘trippy’ sensation to transcend awareness and return to the soul of our being without any external reference. And hugely liberating

Physically, Louka’s 22-posture composition of airborne asanas allows gravity to kick in for even deeper muscle release, spine decompression and postural realignment. It creates space to let the blood reach parts it rarely finds. It tweaks the nervous and endocrine systems and lowers the heart rate.

“The more you trust, the more your body releases, opens and aligns. The more you release, the more effortless it becomes to support you,” says Louka. To me this is at the core of TULA (Sanskrit for ‘balance’) YOGA (meaning ‘union’). It blends physical release with emotional harmony - and brings together a vulnerable understanding between two people which calls for no higher purpose than that. There’s nothing remotely erotic about union with Louka but something beautifully intimate nonetheless. And you couldn’t find a more trustworthy pair of hands. Or feet.

photography: www.helenabraham.com 

photography: www.helenabraham.com 

www.tulayoga.com. The complete two and half hour treatment is £350 in London and Geneva.

Sophie Benge